by: Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949)

      N childhood’s pride I said to Thee:
      ‘O Thou, who mad’st me of Thy breath,
      Speak, Master, and reveal to me
      Thine inmost laws of life and death.
      ‘Give me to drink each joy and pain
      Which Thine eternal hand can mete,
      For my insatiate soul would drain
      Earth’s utmost bitter, utmost sweet.
      ‘Spare me no bliss, no pang of strife,
      Withhold no gift or grief I crave,
      The intricate lore of love and life
      And mystic knowledge of the grave.’
      Lord, Thou didst answer stern and low:
      ‘Child, I will hearken to thy prayer,
      And thy unconquered soul shall know
      All passionate rapture and despair.
      ‘Thou shalt drink deep of joy and fame,
      And love shall burn thee like a fire,
      And pain shall cleanse thee like a flame,
      To purge the dross from thy desire.
      ‘So shall thy chastened spirit yearn
      To seek from its blind prayer release,
      And spent and pardoned, sue to learn
      The simple secret of My peace.
      ‘I, bending from my sevenfold height,
      Will teach thee of My quickening grace,
      Life is a prism of My light,
      And Death the shadow of My face.’

"The Soul's Prayer" is reprinted from The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. Ed. Nicholson & Lee. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1917.



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